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the man who, for the sake of filthy lucre, pampered the cravings of his victim's appetite for strong drink, when he dies in his sins, "receives the greater damnation."
The poor Papist, who is devoted to the superstitious rites of his religion, and who trusts his salvation to the efficacy of penances and alms and masses, will perish unless he repent but the priest, who taught him to deny the Lord that bought him, and perverted his reason by sophistry and falsehood, will receive the greater damnation.—The Judge of all the earth will do right.
As for the allusion to 1 Cor. iii. 12. it is as jejune and inappropriate as an unapt quotation well can be. "If any one shall build upon this foundation,-wood, hay, stubble, if any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." As this Scripture is forced in as a proof text to sustain the Romish distinction between venial and mortal sins, I suppose the man's venial sins are to be burnt, and thus he is to suffer loss. Good riddance surely! But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Of course by the fires of purgatory.
The doctrine which is so prominently taught in the standards of the Romish church of the distinction between mortal and venial sin, is prima facie evidence, that the whole system is directly at variance with the Word of God. Sin in every form and degree is the abominable thing which He hates. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness. Fallen man in the pride of his selfish heart graduates the degrees of guilt attached to various crimes, according to the extent to which they affect his comfort and security in this world. Thus, theft and murder are great sins, but profanity and Sabbath-breaking are little sins, because the latter do not so immediately trench upon the rights and interests of society. But God judges by another rule. He looks at the heart, and in the enmity of the carnal mind he sees the secret fountain, from which all the
streams of depravity proceed. This alienation of heart is the sin which he hates-and it is developed as clearly to the eye of God in the most secret thoughts, and the most trifling actions of the unregenerate man, as it is to our view in the most appalling exhibitions of depravity.
When the Spirit of God has renovated the heart, changed the bias of the will, enlightened the understanding, and nerved us with moral strength, we are minded to obey—it is our meat and our drink to serve God. We cannot sin as the unregenerate do, who hate God with a perfect hatred, though we may be overtaken in a fault; we may fall as many of the mighty have done, but we believe that though the just man fall seven times, he will rise up again, fly to Christ for pardon, and finally be accepted in the belovednot because any, or the least of his sins were venial, but because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.
Our limits will not permit us to follow the author through the intricacies of his nice distinctions between mortal and venial sin. Suffice it to say, that there are no less than twenty-one numbers or chapters relating to this subject. The 156th No. commences with the following words:
"Although mortal sin is far removed from venial, it is extremely difficult to discover, and very dangerous to define, which is mortal, and which venial; so that these are matters which ought to be considered not by a human, but a divine mind, as Enchiridius remarks," &c.
After this statement, we know not whether most to admire the theological acumen or the modesty of the author, portrayed in the twenty chapters, which immediately succeed this avowal of the difficulty and danger of the enterprise. The reader would probably be very little edified by a perusal of Peter Dens' theological prose relative to such points as "The difference between mortal and venial sin," "Rules for distinguishing mortal sin from venial," &c., "The ways in
which mortal sin becomes venial, and in which venial becomes mortal," &c.
In the treatise concerning conscience which succeeds the disquisition on mortal and venial sin, the following subjects are discussed: "Rules of human actions." 66 'Definition of conscience." "Division of conscience." "Of acting against conscience." "Of acting according to conscience." "The mode of deposing an erroneous conscience." "The safe rule of action." "Of the conscience, which is the safe rule of acting." "Of conduct, which is safe, safer, and not so safe." "Doubtful conscience." 66 Perplexed conscience.” "Of probability.” "Probable conscience." "Of opinions more probable but less safe." "Of the most probable opinion." 66 Scrupulous conscience.” "The causes of scruples." "Remedies of scruples." "The confessor of the scrupulous,"―i.e. how the confessor ought to proceed with a scrupulous person. It will be apparent from the preceding captions that there is a considerable assortment of conscience offered to the faithful, and he must be very fastidious, who, cannot be accommodated.
[No. 23. Vol. II.]
Concerning the Precepts of the Church.
"I. PRECEPTS of the church necessary to be known are five.
"What are the principal precepts of the church, concerning all Christ's faithful?
"I. Although the precepts of the church are very numerous, both in canon law, and in councils and constitutions of
the Popes, yet five are specially propounded in the catechisms as necessary to be known and observed by all: they are the following;
"II. 1. Celebrate the festivals appointed by the church.
"2. On festivals reverently hear the sacred office of the Mass.
"3. Observe the fasts appointed on certain days, and abstinence from some kinds of food.
"4. Confess your sins every year to your own priest, or to another with his permission.
"5. Receive the most holy Eucharist, at least once a and that about Easter." year,
This is the Papist's way of salvation; by these meritorious works, heaven is secured to all the faithful! It may well be questioned whether another system of delusion could be invented, which would at once more effectually lead captive the carnal mind and gratify the natural self-righteousness of the human heart. The observance of these five precepts constitutes a good Catholic, and an heir of everlasting life! It is beneath sober demonstration to show that a sinner may observe these five precepts and five thousand more of the same kind, and yet be an utter stranger to the renewing grace of God. Or, are we to suppose that regeneration consists in obedience to these five rules? If so, show us a single one of them in the Bible; or point out even in the corrupted Doway version the authority upon which these five precepts are based. You look for them in vain in God's word—and no wonder, for they are inventions of the Man of Sin.
[No. 27. Vol. II.]
Concerning Infidels and Heretics subject to the Law.
"I. Infidels are not bound by the laws of the church. II. Heretics, &c., are bound by them. III. Whether it is lawful to give meats to heretics on a fast day.
“Are infidels and heretics bound by the laws?
“Ans. 1. They are all bound by the eternal and natural law, also by positive divine laws.
"2. Infidels or unbaptized persons are not held by the positive laws of the church; because they are not subject to the church; hence the apostle says, 1 Cor. v. 12. What have I to do to judge them that are without?'
"It is inferred if such persons eat meats on a day of ecclesiastical fast, that they do not sin against the law of the church, nor indeed does he who furnishes meats to them; unless they should eat these meats in contempt of the church.
"II. 3. Heretics, schismatics, apostates and all such baptized persons, are bound by the laws of the church, which concern them: because through baptism they have become subject to the church; nor are they any more absolved from her laws, than subjects rebelling against their lawful prince (are absolved) from the laws of the prince.
"Do heretics therefore sin, when they do not observe the fasts and feasts appointed by the church?
"Certainly unless they may be excused for some cause, as for instance, ignorance.
Obj. I. Heretics are not in the church; therefore they are not subject to the church.
"Ans. It is true, heretics are not in the church as to the union of charity and the communion of the saints; but though they are not in the church as to subjection, on the other hand, by baptism they are subject to the church, and remain personally subject to the church, wherever they may have been.